The Institute will enhance educational opportunities for Gannon University students in freshwater and marine biology as well
as providing research capabilities and water testing services for local stakeholders. These groups, which currently provide
more than $75,000 in funding for water related research to Gannon faculty, include the Pennsylvania Departments of
Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Sea Grant, the Erie County Department
of Health and water authorities throughout the region.
The Institute can perform research and testing that can identify the type and concentration of human pathogens produced
by waterborne microbes, determine the level of toxins present in harmful aquatic algal blooms, test for the presence and
amount of agricultural, industrial and commercial chemicals of concern in water, identify invasive species in various
waterways and determine the probable causes of tumors in fish and other aquatic wildlife.
“Gannon’s location on Lake Erie, the expertise of our faculty, and resources like the Environaut make us ideal for
establishing the WETT institute and offering a new bachelor’s degree in freshwater and marine biology, the first of its kind in
the area.” said Steven Mauro, Ph.D., dean of the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences. “Presque Isle State
Park is a major source of recreation and revenue where water quality is an issue. We had our first toxic algal bloom in
Presque Isle Bay last year and we also have a fishing industry that is very interested in these services. WETT will continue
a valued outreach to our community.”
Mauro, himself a research biologist, and one of several Gannon faculty members who have conducted research in the
waters of Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay, also cited the research opportunities available for University and area high school
students aboard the Environaut, Gannon University’s 53-foot research vessel.
The new program in freshwater and marine biology complements existing Gannon University majors in biology and
environmental science/engineering. The program will require a minimum of 19 credits in such courses as Aquatic
Microbiology, Aquatic Toxicology and Tropical Marine Biology, a course taught in the Bahamas. Mauro said that there are
approximately 60 aquatic science programs in the U.S., very few of which specialize in freshwater biology.
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